It’s a 17 minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokara if the planes are able to take off. Otherwise, it is a 5 hour drive on bumpy mountain roads. We were in luck. After a 45 minute delay, it was clear enough to fly.
We stopped at the Pokhara office to load what we would need for the next three days into the OAT supplied duffels, leaving our big bags behind. After lunch atop a mountain, we drove for about an hour, then hit the trail, to walk the last three miles to our lodge.
As I was walking up and down the mountain trail, I was thinking about my gym buddies at Somerset Hills Y. Knowing that they would all be in class was the extra motivation that got me to Zumba, AOA, Yoga and Barre— and boy oh boy, were those classes necessary. Our treks were far more enjoyable because I’d been “training” for the past 6 months. It also helped that the heavy lifting was done by village women, who carried our bags in baskets on their backs, attached to a strap across their foreheads.
After the chaos of Kathmandu, we were so very ready for the beautiful and peacefully remote Gurung Lodge in Annapurna. And what a fantastic lodge it was. Our clean, comfortable rooms were stocked with umbrellas, warm hats and gloves, a north face parka, flashlight, and crocs. The lounge chairs on our front porches were perfect for naps after our hikes through the villages, to the school, the mother’s cooperative, the museum and the two room health center.
During our stay, smoke from wildfires in India caused the sky to cloud up, so we only occasionally got a glimpse of the Annapurna Mountains. Despite the clouds and mist, the view was still jaw dropping. It was impossible to capture the magnificence of this mountain range in a photo, although we all tried. As with so much in life, you just had to be there.
Our lodge had electricity for a few hours every day, just long enough to charge our camera batteries. Solar power heated the water, so we took our showers in the afternoon. As for our hair, the only blow dryer in the camp comes courtesy of the afternoon breeze.
Despite a complete lack of so many of the modern conveniences that we take for granted, we had tasty and healthy meals. I so appreciated how hard the villagers and the lodge staff had to work to ensure that we were well fed and comfortable.
We got a little surprise on our village trek. When we arrived, we were greeted by this group of women. It took us a while to realize that ONE of them looked VERY familiar.
Marilynn, our power walker, had arrived far in advance of the rest of our group, so the village ladies decided to dress her up and make her part of the welcoming committee.
It made me feel good to see how our contributions to the OAT Foundation are making life easier forthe communities we visit. Before OAT donated the machinery, grain was ground by hand. Not an easy task, as Marie is demonstrating.
If my iPhone counted accurately, the walk to the village is the equivalent of 103 flights of stairs ONE WAY! And we couldn’t get the ladies to carry us in their baskets for the return trip.
But it was worth it, because the scenery was spectacular!